A few days ago, I had oral surgery to address an ongoing infection in one of my upper molars. The procedure involved cutting through my gums and manually removing the infection and the tips of the molar’s roots before sealing them off. I’m not going to lie and say it was fun, or even no big deal. I don’t like even simple dental procedures, and this one was a doozie, any way you looked at it. But I can say that the procedure wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated, for one reason and one reason only: the terrific attitude of the endodontist and her staff.
From the minute I walked into the office, I was treated with compassion, patience and encouragement. Did I want a blanket to cover up in? Did I have any questions before we began? Would I like the chair set to massage during the procedure? Of course I wanted all of it, especially the chance to ask some last-minute questions. And by the time the procedure began, I was much calmer more relaxed than I would ever have thought possible in those circumstances. By the time it was over, I was actually kind of proud of myself for how well I handled it.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my pride was misplaced. Yes, I had done a good job of managing my nerves in the days before the procedure, but by the time of the actual appointment, I was both nervous and scared. If the staff had been hurried and abrupt, brushing off my questions, rolling their eyes at my request for a last-minute bathroom break, or acting as if there was no reason for me to be apprehensive, my entire experience would have been very, very, different. If I had even stuck around long enough for them to do it. (I may be old, but I can still run pretty fast when I have to.)
The reason I was so calm during the procedure was because the endodontist and her staff did everything in their power to settle my nerves and allow me to get through it with as much dignity as possible. And that is a gift that I will not soon forget.
I’m sure I was just one of a series of scared and nervous people that the endodontist’s staff has dealt with, and that the way I was treated was their normal routine. But their patience and encouragement made a world of difference to me. Which just goes to show that how we treat other people really is a very big deal.
It really doesn’t take that much effort to offer someone an encouraging word, or to listen when someone needs to express their fears and concerns. It isn’t that hard to smile at a newcomer, to talk to someone who is lonely, or to offer our sympathy to someone who is grieving. Yet each and every time we do these things, we may well be giving someone else that little bit of help they need to get them through whatever difficulty they happen to be facing at the time. And what could be more important than that?